It was a Saturday morning, and I was up early. I could hear the birds singing melodiously through my half opened window. The tangerine sun was just making an appearance in between those green hills, not too far away from my place. And the sky seemed unusually clear, a sign that it was going to be a sunny day ahead. As I was wiping the sleep from my eyes, still nailed to the bed, I heard a faint female voice calling my name from the other side of the door. The voice was barely audible, so I tried shutting off all of my other four senses in an attempt to affirm what I had heard. I couldn't. "That's weird", I murmured, convincing myself that it was just my imagination. I climbed off my bed and headed towards the door, just to check so that I could rest my conscience. No one was there when I opened the door.
I was lying on my bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, while trying to orchestrate my plans for the day. I could come up with none. The blue sky was declaring its presence slowly, and I could feel the gush of fresh air blowing into my room. "Maybe a breezy morning walk would be good for me", I said monologously. So after a quick bath I straight away put on a plain white t-shirt and a pair of bermuda shorts. I grabbed some small change I had left on my coffee table last night, for breakfast later I thought.
I decided to go through the park that day, since it would be a shorter route to the town. The grass was still covered with dew, and the asphalt was still damped from the downpour last night. It was still early, and I could only see three people around at the time. One guy who jogged pass by me, and two old ladies who were peacefully performing their tai chi routines less than a hundred yards away. I was walking pass a huge old oak tree midway through the park when I first realized that the sky had turned slightly greyish. Dark clouds were gathering, slowly but for certain, and I could sense a storm coming. "Someone's having a moodswing", I joked. So I made quick my pace heading towards the town's coffee shop, figuring I could just retire there with my breakfast if it should rain again.
As I was walking towards the park's exit I noticed one of my shoe laces came untied. I was attending to it, half kneeling, when someone tapped my shoulder. I looked up and saw a stranger with a familiar face. She had light brown eyes, flowing auburn hair, and the kind of mellow smile that just comforts you. "Jesse, is that you?", I found myself asking her. She gave me another smile. I haven't seen her in ages, since we were kids. I remember we used to play hide and seek in this very woods every summer holiday, when she would come visit and stay at her uncle's place, a stone's throw away from where I used to live with my parents. One summer she just stopped coming around, and I never saw her again after that. So enthusiastically I asked her what she was doing there, and she said something that sounded like "came back to sort out some things". I didn't pay much attention, I was just stunned. The odds of running into her there of all places, and then of all time.
The sky was still grey, but it didn't threaten to rain somehow. So I invited Jesse to sit on the bench next to us. Maybe do some ten years worth of catching up in a few minutes. Breakfast can wait, I thought. We talked, actually I was doing most of the talking since Jesse didn't have much to say. She reluctantly answered my every question with a word or two the most, constantly avoiding to elaborate further. She was more interested to know my end of the story, like how I've been doing, whether I still live at the same place, and stuffs like that. I found it strange that she appeared hesitant whenever I tried to turn the topic around. And somehow I was puzzled with the way she looked. Even with the beautiful smile crafted on her face she couldn't hide the sorrow that was radiating from within. "Maybe she's just worried about some problems at the moment", my mind was telling me.
It was about 9.30 a.m. when the first drop of rain finally came down. Our conversation was interrupted, but Jesse said she had to go anyhow. I invited her for coffee, but she declined the offer politely, asserting the fact that she really had to go somewhere. Before I left, I asked her, "Can I see you again tomorrow?". She just gave me a smile and said her goodbye. We then went off our separate ways. I sprinted my way to the town's coffee shop for shelter. And I arrived thanking God that I was not soaked yet. A set of toasts and two cups of coffee indulged in while waiting for the rain to stop. I went back home right after.
The next morning I woke up excited with the idea that I might see Jesse again that day. I didn't have the uncle's house phone number, so I thought I'd just show up on his doorsteps and ask for Jesse. After a bath and some light grooming, I headed to her uncle's house near where I used to live. This time I brought my umbrella with me, just in case. I strolled down the road with a smile planted on my face, and a happy tune of whistling to go with. As I arrived at the vintage off-white porch of her uncle's house, I found my heart suddenly pounding in a vigorous manner. I knocked on the door three times before a man that looked like her uncle, if I remember correctly, answered with a smile. I politely asked for Jesse. Suddenly his expression changed, somewhat full of grief then.
I sat on the pavement, overwhelmed with all sorts of feelings. Shocked, sad, scared, and puzzled all at the same time. What that man said kept ringing in my ears. "I'm sorry son, she died. Nine years ago. Yesterday. They found her body in the park. She wanted to go see her friend. So she went one morning, but never came back.", the man told me while trying to hide his sorrow, but still visible through his eyes. I threw up next to the tree nearby, the feelings were too overwhelming to digest. Then I headed back home, suddenly finding tears running down my cheeks.
*story based on the essay written for my SPM paper*